Translations in Kinscripts: Child Circulation among Ghanaians Abroad

This chapter discusses the practice of child circulation in Ghana.  Coe notes that in Ghana, child circulation is not meant to break a child’s connection with biological parents.  It is meant to increase the child’s social connections and support structure.  Per Coe, when Ghanaians go abroad, they often look to place their children in other households, generally in the homes of people not related to them in the country of migration. Traditionally in Ghana, children are known to belong to multiple mothers and fathers.

Coe discusses the two types of circulation associated with migration.  The first is a grandparent circulation, which often happens when the mother leaves the country to work or attend school and leaves the child her mother for care.  Another type is the movement of older children to urban areas into higher-status and more educated households.  In this second scenario, parents often see this as a step up for their children.

Coe points out that this approach to child circulation is multi-dimensional whereas Western perceptions are dyadic.  Child rights and identity through Ghanaian culture are established through blood and birth.  In Western society, these connections are established through law.  Through Western perception, adoption severs biological parents rights and connections to the child.  However, there are exceptions in France and Belgium where the court has allowed continued bonds with the biological family.

This chapter notes that Western perception of family regulate the understanding of family within national and international borders, which includes the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions.